Wencke Myhre

Gitte

Dorthe

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Germans highly rate her follow-up, "Flower Power Kleid," but the juvenile lyrics ("She wears a ding-dong, bama-lama, sing-song, teeny-weeny, flower-power dress") only exacerbated the singer's frustration with the lightweight material she was being fed. Viewed as a serious film actress back home in Scandinavia, Wencke was determined to earn equal respect in Germany, and starred in her first German film in 1970.

Interestingly, the first German recording by fellow Norwegian Kirsti, born Kirsti Sparboe in 1946, was made in communist East Berlin. The eerie "Zwei Augen" was arguably her classiest recording, while subsequent West German material like "Du darfst nicht weinen" and "Napoleon und Josephine" followed a more traditional Schlager route. She is lauded for 1969's infectious "Ein Student aus Uppsala."

Perhaps the most successful of all the Scandinavian girls was Denmark's Gitte. Born in 1946, her first recording was a duet with her father at age eight. Nine years later, the Danish child star took home first prize at Schlagerfestspielen with "Ich will 'nen Cowboy als Mann." Her cowgirl style was mimicked by Gitte-loving girls everywhere, and once she hooked up with German sex symbol Rex Gildo, the hits were unstoppable. They worked as a duo for years, charting at number one with "Vom Stadtpark die Laternen," which set the saccharine tone for many singles to come. But in 1966, she parted ways with Gildo in hopes of establishing a solo career with a more contemporary sound. She returned to the top twenty with "Man muß schließlich auch mal "nein" sagen könn'n" and "Ich mach' Protest," and in 1967 she released conceptual pop album, Jeder Boy ist anders, with each track telling the story of a different boy.

Copenhagen-born Dorthe (Larsen) was already a star in her homeland before trying her luck in Germany. "Junger Mann mit rotten Rosen" earned the 17-year-old fourth place in the 1964 Schlagerfestspielen and her first German hit. Her brand of unrelentingly cheery fare continued with songs such as "Dip-di-dip" and "Blondes Haar am Paletot" (an aural doppelgänger for Connie Francis' "Lipstick On Your Collar"). Her only attempt at a beat sound came with the 1966 single "Darauf fall' ich nicht rein." When it flopped, Dorthe returned to more familiar territory on singles like "Waerst du doch in Düsseldorf geblieben." But it was her biggest hit, 1968's "Sind Sie der Graf von Luxemburg?" which best reveals how out of touch Germany was with the European zeitgeist. While students rioted in Paris and Soviet tanks rolled into Prague, Germany lapped up the trite tale of a Danish girl asking complete strangers if they were, by any chance, the count from the well-known operetta.

Out of touch, out of time

That was, of course, typical of Germany. While Germans liked to sample the musical delights of other countries, they preferred songs to have a distinct taste of sausage and sauerkraut. Though tales of foreign climes gave way to odes to the environment, the musical styles established in the '60s continued through to the end of the '70s. The arrival of German new wave acts like Kraftwerk and Nena in the '80s prompted a change in foreign attitudes towards German music. Instead of relying on international singers to bolster the charts, Germany took its music to the world and helped shape the sound of electro and new wave. But that's a whole other story.

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